Making the most of Social Media at Trade Exhibitions

This month see’s two major events take place for the business community in Scotland.

On the 13th April Hampden Park in Glasgow hosted Expo Scotland a daylong event geared towards people looking to develop their businesses, grow a business they work in, or for those looking to keep up to date with industry and business skills.

Then, from the 20th to 21st April the Visit Scotland Expo 2016 will take place at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh, this is Visit Scotland’s flagship event for the travel trade and the only fair of this kind in the UK which exclusively promotes Scotland.

Between the two, there will be well over 400 exhibitors, hundreds of international buyers, and thousands of delegates and visitors. These events are two of the biggest networking events on the Scottish calendar.

This type of real-life networking is crucial to the success of our businesses – regardless of our industry or sector, so how could social media possibly enhance that?
Using social media at a trade expo fair show (Before) (2)

1. Find out what the Expo Hashtag is

Start following it a couple of weeks beforehand and use it in every message related to the expo before, during and after to be part of the wider conversation with all the key players. The hashtag for VisitScotland Expo for example is #visitscotexpo.

 

2. Consider your own company or campaign Hashtag

Create your own conversation around your business, industry, topic or incentive to engage people at the expo with your social media.

 

3. Build awareness in advance of the Expo

Generate an interest before you attend to drive people to your stand or to find you on the day. Offer an incentive to entice people to visit your stand first, signal this to them beforehand and create a buzz around you and your business.

 

4. Ask the event organisers for digital promotional material in advance

Content is key on social media and if you have materials prepared in advance from the organisers, such as their logo, the branding, some graphics or photographs, or their video content will certainly make your posts stand out from the crowd.

 

5. Introducing a new product or service: try a promo video

Often we’ll promote something new that we are offering our customers or clients, why not produce a short (less than 60 seconds) video that you can share prior to, during and after the expo.

 

6. Schedule in advance

Expo’s are busy places but don’t forget you can schedule Tweets and Facebook posts. This could be particularly helpful if you are presenting or leading a seminar – schedule tweets of key talking points during your presentation.

 

Using social media at a trade expo fair show (During)

 

7. Share lots of photos from the day

Take photos of you setting up, all set up, welcoming your first visitor to your stand, attending your first keynote talk or breakout session, over lunch, when your networking, when you visit other stands, when the day is winding down, when you’re packing up and on your way home again.

 

8. Connect on LinkedIn

You’re at a professional event, so it makes sense to connect with the people you meet on a professional network. Let your LinkedIn followers know you’ll be at the expo, ask to connect with people on LinkedIn that you meet on the day, and make sure you follow up with them afterwards.

 

9. Create a mobile friendly expo landing page on your website

Direct people, you meet or connect with via social media to information that pertains to them and the event you are attending; you’ll then have measurable web stats afterwards too.

 

10. Connect with industry specific media contacts

Whether it’s on Twitter or LinkedIn ask them to stop by your booth to see new products, learn about new services, attend a seminar you are speaking at, or consider writing about your business story idea.

 

11. Use enthusiasm to your advantage

If you meet a delegate or visitor who is ecstatic about your product or service or has a great story, ask if you can take their photo (or video) then share it to your social media alongside a testimonial.

 

12. “Bring the show to the masses”

One of the reasons for participating on social media while you are at the expo is to bring the event to the people who couldn’t physically be there. Posting timely photos and expo updates will help attendees who are hundreds of miles away feel like they are there with you.

 

Social Media at trade expo exhibition show fair (2)

 

13. Follow Up

Once the expo is over and your back to work, go through the business contacts you’ve made and see if they are on LinkedIn, follow them on Twitter or Like their business page on Facebook. Make yourself more memorable by including a personal note or comment along with the connection.

 

14. Review your experience

After the expo why not spend an hour and write something up about your experiences for your blog. Talking about who you met, what you learnt, or what impact attending had on your business.

 

15. Share your insights

If you presented a seminar, breakout session or were one of the speakers at the expo why not share your presentation, talk and content with the rest of the world. You could share clips of the seminar, slides on Slideshare or link to a PDF handout, all via social media.

Advertisements

Twitter: Back to Basics

Last month saw Twitter enter into its second decade, and for the 320 million people around the world who use it actively, Twitter is probably one of the better social networks.

However, it can be a bit of a minefield to navigate, understand and use, and the stats back this up.  Of the 1.3 billion Twitter accounts registered worldwide, only 120 million people use it monthly, nearly half of all accounts have never sent a tweet, and about 40% of active accounts haven’t tweeted in the last year.

Here in the UK, there are 13.1 million active users that businesses have the potential to connect with if they know what Titter is, how to use it and why it could be beneficial to them.

To help demystify Twitter, here are 10 Back to Basics tips for using Twitter for your business.

1. What is a Tweet

When looking at the Twitter feed, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the number of posts streaming in.  You may be wondering what the highlighted words preceded by a # are, or why someone’s name starts with the @ symbol. Perhaps you’re unsure of what the arrows mean below the post. Getting to grips with the way a post looks is paramount to getting started with your own tweets, so here’s our guide to the anatomy of a tweet:

Twitter Basics: Anatomy of a Tweet

 

2. What does the @ symbol mean?

The @ symbol always precedes an account name.  It’s like our own web address; it’s how people can find us on Twitter and the only way to reference (or mention) another user in your tweet (eg @tuminds). Users are notified when they are @mentioned. It’s how we can speak to one another on Twitter.

 

3. What is a hashtag?

We explored in-depth what a hashtag is in our blog post: Hashtags: What Are They?  Basically, a hashtag is a word or phrase that help us identify and pull together specific messages and topics of conversation. You can create your own hashtags, use established hashtags and you can monitor hashtags for conversation and information.

 

4. What are Trends?

Each day you’ll see that Twitter Trends change as a trend refers to a hashtag-driven topic that is most popular at that particular time. In other words, trends are the topics that a lot of people on Twitter are talking about that day.

 

5. Reply, Retweet, Like, Analytics and More

To comment on a tweet, answer a question or take part in a conversation, you use the first arrow below the tweet – the reply button. When you click on this arrow, Twitter will automatically open up a new post box with the @accountname you want to reply to.

To share a tweet with your own followers, you click on the second set of arrows – this is known as re-tweeting. This lets you share other people’s content that might be of interest to the people who follow you.

If you want to show another Twitter user that you have read and liked their tweet, you click on the ‘heart’ button. This was formerly known as the ‘favourite’ button (once a yellow star), but Twitter changed this to the heart earlier this year.

Reply, RT, Like, Analytics, More Features

 

Once you build up a certain number of followers, you can view data for each of your tweets to see how far your post has reached across Twitter (impressions), and how many people took an action on your tweet (engagement).

The ‘More’ button is where you can:

  1. Send the person who tweeted a DM (direct message) this is a private 1-2-1 message which appears in Messages.
  2. Copy the web link for the tweet, so you can share this across the web.
  3. Embed the tweet using a code that you can place on your website or in your blog.
  4. Mute, Block and Report Twitter accounts. These features allow you to control any unwanted or abusive tweeters or trolls by muting or blocking them. You won’t see their content and they won’t see yours. Reporting these Twitter account sends a report to Twitter to signal that the post or the account user is breaching community rules.

 

6. Following People

The best way to make Twitter useful and relevant to you is to find and follow useful and relevant people. When you find someone you like on Twitter, you can follow them easily with just a click of a button.

If you see someone in your newsfeed, for instance, you can hover your mouse over the @accountname and their profile will appear with a little icon of a person in the top right-hand corner with a + sign.  Click on that and you’ll start following that account.

You can also follow people by visiting their profile page and clicking ‘Follow’.

How to follow someone on twitter

7. Moments – The Lightning Bolt

Next to the tab for your home feed, you see the ‘Moments’ tab.  This feature lets you see what Twitter describes as ‘the best of what’s happening on Twitter in an instant.’ Moments is a bit like Trends, but focuses more on the content and conversations that are being shared across the network, and lets you see stories as they unfold. You can find Moments on your Twitter App by clicking on the Lightning Bolt.

Finding Moments

 

7. Twitter Lists

To help organise your Twitter feed so that it remains useful and relevant to you, you should use Twitter Lists.

When you click on your profile picture in the top right-hand corner of your screen, you’ll see a link to ‘Lists’. Click on this link and you can now start creating and organising lists to add people to.  For example, you could create a list called ‘Local Businesses’ to which you would add the Twitter accounts of businesses in your area, and when you click on this list, your feed will contain only the posts from people on this list.

You can also follow other people’s lists. Do this by finding a relevant Twitter user, visit their profile and click on ‘Lists’ next to where you can see the number of tweets they’ve sent, the number of people they follow and the number of followers they have, then the posts they have liked.  Find a useful list and click on ‘Subscribe’. You can now access this list from your own account.

Twitter Lists

8. Linking Facebook and Twitter?

It’s tempting to link your two accounts together and simply send all your Facebook messages to Twitter. But try to resist the urge.  There are two reasons for this. Firstly, people want to see Twitter messages on Twitter. If they wanted to see a Facebook post, they would be on Facebook. Don’t push them towards another social media platform every time you post.

Secondly, while you have no character limit on Facebook, you do on Twitter, so not only is it obvious that you’ve linked your accounts when the sentence is broken in half and ends with a www.fb.me link, but you aren’t actually communicating your whole message to this audience. It would be like placing an advert in a newspaper or magazine and only giving the publisher half the advert. Pointless.

Linking Facebook and Twitter

9. Are you using the app?

One of the biggest advantages to Twitter is how easy it is to use on the go. You can craft quick, real-time messages to give your followers an insight into your day or work. The App has all the same functionality as the desktop version but is less cluttered.

 

10. Can I schedule Tweets?

Yes, you can. You can’t actually do it direct from Twitter, but there are online tools to help you schedule your messages. I use Hootsuite, but there are a number of publishing and scheduling tools you can also use including TweetDeckTwittimer, and Twuffer. Have a search for the scheduling tool you find easiest to use.

Twitter Basics

Using Visuals in your Social Media

Over the last few years, it has become increasingly apparent that using visuals in your social media marketing is far more effective than using text alone. If you want your message to be seen, if you want to encourage interaction and you want to make the most out of your content, using an effective visual is essential.

 

In my work , I’ve found that using a visual, be it a photograph, a graphic, illustration or video, is much more attention grabbing in people’s newsfeeds.

It’s a form of content that is more likely to be shared; they evoke emotional reactions that text alone cannot, and visuals portray a lot of information quickly and conveniently.

There has been more emphasis on visual marketing in digital than ever before, and if you’re interested in boosting your social media efforts, then considering the types of visuals you use will be key to that.

 

So how can we use visuals in our social media and what types of visuals should we be creating?

 

The Product or Lifestyle Shot

People like to shop in real life so they can see items up close and personal, touch them, feel them, weigh them up in our hands. Of course, we can’t replicate that tactile experience on digital (yet), but we can offer tangible visuals of the items we sell. People want to see what they are buying, so show it to them, don’t talk about it.

Lifestyle shots help people to understand how your product or service might fit into their live; it helps them to visualise how what you offer can be of benefit to their lives. When someone can understand better what your item does for them, it tends to increase conversion sooner.

The Team Picture

 The Team Picture

People like to do business with people, and if we can see who is behind the business we are much more likely to trust them, particularly online. Showing off who you are and what your team is like helps to humanise your business in a way that no other form of marketing can achieve.

Behind-the-Scenes Spontaneous Shot

Most of us are interested in how you do what you do. Have you ever watched the show ‘How Stuff Works?’ or wondered why ‘Handmade’ has become more popular recently? They’re successful because people are genuinely interested in how the things they buy and use are actually made, who makes them and what materials are used to make them.

The behind-the-scenes visual also provides exclusivity by enabling you to give your social media audience an experience that they won’t get anywhere else, this builds rapport and community.

The Action Shot

Have you ever thought about showing people how you do what you do when you’re doing it? Because we gravitate more to human faces in visuals, capturing your team in the moment of doing their job provides realism and trust at the same time.

We should try to connect with our social media followers in real time, with real life, as often as we can. An impromptu, candid shot of you or your team while they are working, is far more credible than a posed or staged image.

Social media strategy

The Graphic

A bold, clean and crisp graphic is so much more effective at communicating a message. Graphics are fantastic for your Calls-to-Action and adds variety to your feed. Using colourful graphics increases people’s interest in your content, it draws the eye in, and makes us more likely to share that piece of content.

The How to Image

The rise of the ‘How To’ video, infographic and visuals across platforms like Instagram and Pinterest has been prolific over the last few years. As Jay Baer of Youtility explains, people who think they can do things themselves, usually tend to be a business’s best customer. Don’t think of the ‘How To’ as giving away what you do for free, but giving away inspiration to cultivate customers who will spend money on your professionalism and expertise.

The Collage

The way we upload visuals to our posts has changed across Facebook and Twitter recently to include collages of multiple pictures and videos. These have proven to have a good impact across social media, as they offer variety and tell a more rounded story than a single picture alone can do.

The Selfie

 The Selfie

While the ‘selfie’ is looked upon with disdain from some sections of society, it might be a surprise to learn that the concept of the ‘selfie’ has been around since the late 1800s. As soon as self-portraiture became accessible, affordable and a sign of your social standing in society, people have been recording images of themselves. In the digital age, this is made all the more convenient through smartphones and social media.

But what is important to remember is that people notice human faces first – our eyes are drawn to other people before anything else. A face looking out from a visual makes a direct connection with the person viewing it. It also helps us to guide our gaze, ‘human beings have a natural tendency to follow the gaze of others, and we have been coached since birth to follow arrows directing us to where we should be looking or going’. (Kiss Metrics)

 

Using Social Media to Attract Tourists

These days, people are more likely to turn to review websites and social media to search for travel inspiration for their next holiday.

As our search behaviour changes, it also highlights how our consumer behaviour has changed. Another advantage of digital technology is that we can see and interpret how people use the web and the types of content they access to build a picture of who they are and how best to attract them to our businesses.

This blog post talks about the lessons we’ve learned; looks at the recent Trends report from the Insight Department at Visit Scotland, and uses data collected by Google on tourism trends and behaviour.

The Online Traveller according to Google

At the end of last year, Google provided us with an insight into how travellers use digital technology to plan, make arrangements and engage while on holiday. These were summarised into the ‘5 Stages of Travel’ that every tourism business should tap into to be successful in the digital world.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BA-cK8xjisM/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=7

Dreaming

Every holiday starts with a dream. Whether it’s a location they’ve wanted to visit for years or they’ve been inspired by other people’s travel adventures (documented on their social media), the digital traveller first resides in the dreaming stage.

It’s at this stage that people collect information, make bucket lists and seek out possible adventures. They’re inspired by friends who share photos and videos of their own holidays on their Facebook and Instagram throughout the year, and the digital tourist starts to aspire to have their own experiences.

It’s here that people start to collect articles, visuals, photography, the story of their possible travelling experience and put these into boards on Pinterest, follow new accounts on Twitter and Instagram, and watch videos on YouTube or Vimeo for travel inspiration.

Planning

This is when they turn to Google and search for travel blogs, online travel guides, transport, accommodation and activities they can do in these dream locations.

According to Google, people visit an average of 40 websites before they make any bookings, and turn to social media for recommendations from friends and family. Pin Trips is also on the rise, helping to coordinate and organise planning of the holiday.

It’s at this stage when the digital tourist has the most discussion with their social communities.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FHolidayScotland%2Fposts%2F903889366385392&width=500

Booking

The third stage is when the credit cards start to come out. People will look to TripAdvisor and other review sites to help make up their minds. The digital traveller is much more likely to make a booking (be it for accommodation, travel or activities) if a tourism business has responded to reviews, questions, and feedback on their social media; including Trip Advisor.

The digital traveller expects to be able to book online or by mobile, they don’t expect to have to pick up the phone. Again this relates to the patterns of our digital and online use, people are much more likely to be looking at making a booking in the late evenings when work is over, dinner has been had and perhaps the children have been put to bed. So it’s not always convenient to pick up the phone at 11pm to make a booking or reservation.

TA Walking Tours Inverness

Experiencing

While on holiday, the digital traveller will continue to stay connected (location and Wi-Fi permitting of course). They’ll be using their smartphones while on the move, to search for the next thing to do, to find a place to stop for a bite to eat, and to make future bookings while they are on their adventure.

It’s this behaviour that makes it crucial that your business is optimised for search engines. You might like to consider what your potential digital tourist might be searching for, while on the go so that you can be there in that moment with your website, your social media or a good piece of helpful content.

Sharing

It’s at this final stage that the digital tourist creates their Virtual Trail, documenting their adventure to share with (and inspire) their friends and family.

Here’s where all that lovely user-generated content starts happening, with picture and video shares to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, live streaming of experiences on Periscope or Facebook Live, reviews being written on Trip Advisor, Facebook and Yelp and blog posts published to WordPress and Tumblr.

And so, the journey comes full circle, as the story of your digital tourist’s holiday is shared to inspire the dream in the next digital tourist.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BF4NqYgyKIE/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=7

 

Visit Scotland Trends Insights

Throughout the year Visit Scotland’s Insight Department publishes their Trends Report, as the tourism and hospitality sectors are sensitive to consumer trends and economic conditions, it’s important to be aware of how the environment is changing, what trends are remaining in place and which ones are emerging so we can all continue to develop the tourism sector in Scotland.

  1. Be Honest, Be Authentic

We all have different ideas of what authenticity is, and so will our tourists. Therefore, it’s important to have an understanding of who you are wanting to attract and what type of perspective they have of Scotland.

For some, Scotland is tartan, shortbread, and Highland vistas. But for others, it’s the contemporary shopping in Glasgow or arts festivals in the Borders or Islands. Tourists are looking for ‘authentic’ experiences and we need to meet their expectations.

  1. Millennials do travel

Aside from the over 65-year-olds, the 16 to 24-year-old Millennial will travel during the off-season. They not only stay the longest on average in the winter months, but they also have money to spend.

This group is looking for unique experiences, local or ‘glocal’ products, they are environmentally driven and seek quality for good value. It’s not about the cheapest, it’s about the best experience.

  1. Keeping the mystery alive

Tourists, consumers, people searching for travel inspiration still want to be in control of their purchasing decisions and want to seek out those unique experiences for themselves too. Offering your potential tourist other services and products they might like from business outside of your portfolio or even similar businesses, brings back an element of that control.

  1. Micro-Experiences

As tourists seek greater flexibility in their experiences, the adoption of the micro-product has driven more interest in a variety of sectors from accommodation, food and drink to textiles.

Examples of micro products include the micro-breweries (small batch local craft beer/ale), micro-hotels (short stay accommodation), micro-adventures (activities based in escapism that doesn’t require a lot of planning i.e. a walk in the local park) and micro-retail (pop-up shops and unique independent brands).

All of these products are fostering a sense of exclusivity and personalisation.

  1. Visuals, Visuals, Visuals

A picture speaks a thousand words and a video a million. The rise of visual content, created and shared by users, has been phenomenal in the last few years. A picture or video captures the ‘feeling’ and the ‘experience’ of a location, event, activity or experience, more effectively than any other medium.

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest have all become places where people share their images, creating emotional connections with views that can become the motivation for travel to that place pictured, or foster the desire to take a similar photograph in that place for their own social media presence.

Businesses need to consider how they are using visuals to communicate to their market; are they taking advantage of the photogenic hotspots in their area, are they considering wildlife, the built environment, and rural locations as a way to signal to potential tourists the fantastic photographic potential of visiting your area.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BFOWptnlU6h/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=7

 

Sian’s Insight

Over the years of advising and training tourism and hospitality businesses in using social media to attract and retain tourists to their business, I’ve found the following 5 tips very useful:

  1. Keep it simple and commit to it

    If you’re going to use social media then pick a platform you like to use, keep it easy by planning your social media posts in advance and be consistent.

  2. Use visuals and helpful information

    If you can’t create your own, then share other people’s helpful content or inspiring pictures. It’s there to be shared.

  3. Know who you want to attract 

    A family and their dog will be looking for a very different experience than the lone traveller, for instance, so don’t be tempted to think you can use the same marketing message for both for a quick win.

  4. Experiment with social advertising 

    If you want to increase your reach or exposure, then consider spending a small amount on a well-placed and targeted social advert.

  5. Tell your story 

    If people are interested in the ‘real’ Scotland and authentic experiences, then why not start with yourself.  

#hellodigital: Making Movies with Mobile

We’ve talked a lot on this blog about the merits of using video for your social media marketing. Video consumption via social media and other online platforms has exploded over the last few years, and industry experts are predicting that as our connectivity improves we will spend more time watching movies and video online than we will any other form of content.

Hello Digital InvernessSo, with that in mind, #hellodigital, the digital demonstrator centre here in Inverness, brought in media expert Reshma Biring from the Media Trust in London, to teach us how, businesses of all sizes, can make professional videos to promote their services, products and offers to the world wide web.

The event took place at the new An Lochran building on the Inverness University of the Highlands and Islands campus; a brand new sparkly building with all the top of the range digital kit, which made for a welcoming and inspiring visit. What better way to learn about digital technologies than in a top spec facility?

Reshma taught the 15 businesses in attendance both the theory and practical skills required to make effective video content to attract and retain audiences. From advice on framing, sound, lighting, storytelling and editing, each participant on the day had the opportunity not only to hear about making videos but to actually do it themselves with the support of the years of knowledge Reshma has acquired working in the media and for Media Trust.

For those of you who could not attend, I would highly recommend signing up for the next round of these workshops when they are on offer. But in the meantime, here are my top 20 tips on making movies on mobile.

Top 20 Tips on Making Movies on Mobile

  1. Always film in landscape mode.
  2. Turn your phone onto airplane mode.
  3. Turn the brightness and sound all the way up on your phone.
  4. Clean your camera lens before you start filming.
  5. Make sure you have freed up enough memory on your phone (at least 1GB).
  6. Ensure your phone is fully charged, bring your charger, or if possible an external battery charger.
  7. Test the sound quality of your recording before you start filming.
  8. Check the lighting levels in the area you’re filming in, add more light if needed.
  9. Sort out the framing of your scene before you start filming.
  10. When conducting an interview, listen actively to what is being said.
  11. Respond or interact with your interviewee without using words.
  12. Stay at the same eye level as the person you are interviewing.
  13. Consider the Rule of Thirds when filming.
  14. Get up close and personal to the person or object you’re filming.
  15. Use a combination of different shots.

  1. Have a pre-production meeting before you start filming to discuss what you are going to do.
  2. Use the 5 shot rule.
  3. Shoot a minimum of 7-10 seconds of footage for editing sequences.
  4. Do take still images to incorporate into your video.
  5. Don’t forget to add a call-to-action at the end of your movie.

#hellodigital is a digital demonstrator centre, the first of its kind in Scotland, to help people make the most of broadband and digital technology. Developed by HIE and the Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership, #hellodigital connects business and technology across the North of Scotland. It offers a diverse range of showcases, master classes, and events bringing together industry experts, academic leaders and the business community, including Digital Boost. The centre is now open at An Lochran, on the Inverness Campus.

The Hebrides – Things You Have to Do and See

I spent three days working in the Hebrides this week. I’ve not visited in the summer before, only the winter, and what a fantastic place Lewis and Harris are in the glorious light of the sun. After doing a couple of digital consultations with some clients, talking websites, social media, cloud storage, mobile and tablet devices and the merits of having a mac or a pc, I got to take some time to explore the North Uists for the first time. So I’ve compiled a list of the things which I reckon are not to be missed if you ever find yourself over on these sunny isles.

1. Harris Tweed

There are so many amazing designers now making the most beautiful items from Harris Tweed these days, it has become a fashion must have for sure. Although I wasn’t able to get the jacket I really fancied (it was about £500), I was able to take a good look around some of the stores in Stornoway and around Tarbert.

Harris Tweed

Harris Tweed

Recommended Harris Tweed Outlets:

2. Firstfruit Tearooms

I had the most wonderful tea and scone, lunch and afternoon hangouts at the Firstfruit tearoom in Tarbert. It’s a fantastic family run summer joint where you can chill in the croft space or bathe yourself in the sun outside in their garden. It’s a fab place to meet other tourists and chat about travels around the island. Great value for money too.

First Fruits tearoom

First Fruits tearoom

3. Callanish Standing Stones

These amazing stones were pulled and heaved into place about 4,000 years ago by the inhabitants of the Hebrides. No one is certain why they were put there and for what purpose, but I imagine they would draw people in from all over the island as a place to come together as a community, for shared experiences, and perhaps even some form of worship – in someways its not changed all that much! There is a great little visitors centre there too with an exhibition, unfortunately the weather wasn’t that great when I went and two enormous coaches of tourists arrived just as I did, but it is definitely worth the visit and for a wonder around, it’s not too far outside of Stornoway either.

Calanish Stones

Calanish Stones, JM Barries Signature from the Harris Hotel, and looking over Tarbert

4. Hebrides Art Cafe

Hebrides Art Cafe

Hebrides Art Cafe

If you like your art, or colour, then a trip to Seilebost to see the Hebrides Art Cafe is an absolutely must. Not only is it an exquisite drive down to the South end of Harris, but the cakes and paintings are to die for. I would rank this gallery as one of my favourite of all time. It was relaxed, friendly, the location was amazing, and the talent of the artists and maker’s on display was incredible. All art in the gallery has to be inspired by the Hebrides and about 50% of the exhibits are from local artists. I was overcome by the beautiful colours on display – always have been a sucker for the colours of the sea. Will be saving my pennies for a piece from there soon (managed to buy a couple of postcards as a reminder!)

Hebrides Art, Seilebost, Isle of Harris, HS3 3HP.

5. Stornoway Black Pudding

If you are going to take a trip to Harris or Lewis then you absolutely have to stop and pick up some original Stornoway Black Pudding. The butcher who made the original pudding is based in Stornoway, not far from the high st. It is perhaps the most delicious piece of blood and guts I’ve had to date, it just melts in your mouth – we’re saving the piece I brought home for some Sunday black puddin’ rolls! Yummm.

Stornoway Black Pudding

Stornoway Black Pudding

Make Works Tour in Inverness #thisismakeworks

This morning I got out and about to attend the Make Works Tour and Creative Industries Information Day at Cowan House in Inverness.

The day was hosted by HIE and emergents, and led by the lovely Fi and Vana from Make Works.  Fi Scott founded Make Works during her final year studying product design at Glasgow School of Art, after an internship in Brooklyn Fi returned with a realisation that it’s not that easy to find the practical means  to get things made here. She found after talking to a number of designers, makers, artists, craftspeople, architects, creative practices and manufactures in Scotland, they also expressed a need to be more closely connected with industry, machines, materials and the whole design to production process.  And Make Works was born.

Make Works Tour in Inverness

Make Works Tour in Inverness

The organisation itself is independent and design-led, it aims to celebrate and debate making, manufacture and materials, while connecting design with local industry. Their big project is the Make Works directory. The goal is to create a digital platform providing practical and relevant information about how to get things made in Scotland – from prototype to wholesale manufacture, this would be a directory for makers, manufacturers, factories, specific machinery, material suppliers and workshop or studio space.

Fi and Vana spoke very passionately about their vision to see Scotland’s craft and design industry, whether small cottage industries to large-scale manufacturing plants, showcased, documented and utilised by skilled designers and makers up and down the country.

I myself have come across a number of maker’s in the past who are looking to outsource or have products manufactured for them and simply can’t find, with ease, the right factories or companies in Scotland with the tools and know-how to do what they require. In one instance a maker ended up using an Indian based company despite her best efforts to want to use a Scottish company.

In some ways the Make Works directory will become our very own product design and producing online dating service. We want to be able, as makers and designer, to know who to approach, how to approach them and how to strike deals with manufacturers or people with the tools/skills we need to realise our design dreams.

Bashing out ideas for Make Works

Bashing out ideas for Make Works

What make’s the Make Works directory unique is its approach to collecting and displaying the data they are gathering at the moment while on their tour of Scotland. Instead of your bog standard name and contact details, Fi and Vana are visiting and meeting with the people who run these businesses, interviewing them, and producing short 90 second videos to accompany each entry into the database so we, the users of said directory, can actually see who the business is, what they do and how they do it.

The session today at HIE was looking at what our experiences are with production in Scotland and how we might want to use a directory like this. One of the things which was very much supported by all designers, makers and other interested parties at the session, was that we want to be able to say that our products are ‘Made in Scotland’ – completely. Not just that the company is  based in Scotland, that the materials might be from Scotland, but that the whole production process and therefore the making of the products are 100% Scottish.

Encouragingly Fi and Vana said they have been surprised and delighted by the number of creative businesses and manufacturers out there, and that there really isn’t any obvious gaps in the market. Which is fantastic for us makers, it’s just a matter of connecting the two together and making some beautiful work together.

The Make Works tour is currently under way, as Fi and Vana travel around the whole of Scotland in their Tartan VW camper called Rhubarb – you can follow the tour on their website and by following #makeworkstour

The aim is to launch the directory next April – so watch their space!

Social Networks

Navigating Social Media

Social media is a hot topic for businesses around the globe and has been for the last few years. It enables us connect in more interactive ways with our customers, clients, colleagues and of course our family and friends, in ways unlike traditional online media such as email and websites. Its fundamentally changed the way that we all engage with online content, letting us comment, share and interact, and this has been reflective in the ways that we now view our online presence and marketing.

Social media appears in many different guises, as blogs, micro-blogs, forums, message boards, social networks, wikis, virtual worlds, social bookmarking, tagging, digital storytelling, scrapbooking, data, content, image and video sharing, podcasts and collective intelligence. The most well-known sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Youtube, Flickr, WordPress, Blogger and Wikipedia have all enhanced our online experience and have become influential social forces in both the online and offline world. With people now using Facebook and Youtube as a search engines, some digital marketer’s argue that without a social presence your business reputation will suffer, as increasingly more people are looking for your business on Facebook or Twitter before they visit your website.

It was back in 1971 when the first ever email was sent, and seven years later two Chicago computer hobbyists invented the bulletin board system (BBS) to inform friends of meetings, make announcements and share information through postings, this can be seen as the rudimentary beginnings of virtual communities. But it wasn’t until 1997 that blogging first began and AOL Instant Messenger hit the screens letting users from around the globe chat with one another. In the following two years Google opened as a major internet search engine and index and Friends Reunited was founded in the UK. In the early Noughties (2002) Friendster, probably the first social networking site, was opened to the US public and in its first three months attracted 3 million users. The following year saw the birth of MySpace and LinkedIn set up as a professional social networking site. At this time there were about 3 million web pages indexed on the world wide web.

It wasn’t until 2004 that Facebook made its debut on the web, started by Mark Zuckerberg while studying at Harvard College, initially it was designed to be a closed college network, and we all know where it went from there. From then on there has been a proliferation of social media sites, with YouTube storing and retrieving its first videos in 2005, and Bebo (an acronym for Blog Early, Blog Often) was started as a rival to Facebook. At this time there were now 8 billion web pages. When Twitter launched in 2006 as a microblogging site  Google indexed 25 billion web pages and 400 million queries (or searches) a day.

Now in 2013, only 9 years after the launch of Facebook at Harvard, the site has 1.11 billion users, and if it were a country it would be the third largest in the world, behind China and India. It overtook the US three years ago.  YouTube topped the one billion monthly user mark and 4 billion views per day this year. Twitter has 500 million registered users with more than 200 million active users. LinkedIn has grown to amass 225 million accounts, while MySpace somewhat dawdles with 25 million users. Pinterest, one of the newest sites to hit the scene as a social scrapbooking network has approximately 49 million users, while WordPress now accounts for 16% of the worlds top websites with 74 million hosted blogs. Social media has become such an ingrained part of our daily lives that even Astronauts aboard the International Space Station regularly tweeted and posted videos to Youtube live from space!

Mobile is now playing a massive role in how we check up on our favourite social networks, with more than half of us regularly accessing Facebook and Twitter from our smart phones while on the move. People living in cities spend the most time on social media, and women tend to spend about 10% more time on social networking sites than men.

In the UK 33 million of us are on Facebook, this is up 3 million on the last year, that’s over half of the entire population, in fact proportionally there are more people using Facebook in the UK than in the US. Overall the highest proportion of users are between the ages of 25 and 34 (26%), with 18 to 24 years old’s the next largest group (23%), but the demographic for people over the age of 55 using social media has grown significantly in the last year.

As for Twitter, its estimated that around 34 million of us have live accounts in the UK, which is a huge jump from last years estimate of 26 million. It’s suggested that the heavy coverage and discussions around big events like the Olympics and Jubilee may have been the driver in recruiting new Twitter users. Twitter seems to attract a slightly older grouping of people with 60% being aged between 25 and 54 years old.

Then there’s LinkedIn, the total number of UK users passed the 10 million mark back in 2012, it is now around 11 million. This is about 11% of the population, for a niche networking site this is pretty astounding. Pinterest, although it’s one of the most talked about social networks this year there is only an estimated 200,000 of us using Pinterest here in the UK, and most of these are women.

And these are just the UK stats, when you begin to look at the global usage of social media, it can sometimes be difficult to imagine your message will be seen at all. Which is why it is becoming increasingly more important to really think about what you want your social media to do for you, who you want to be talking to, and how you want them to interact with you. As a marketer it comes relatively easy to me to talk about strategy planning, implementation and monitoring, but for people running small or medium businesses, when you have everything to consider from creating your products or services to running the financial and administration sides of your business, you’d be forgiven for not thinking too strategically about your use of social media. But as more and more people start to look to social networks, blogs and microblogs not only to talk to their friends and family but to get advice or seek out products and services they want and need, we have to think somewhat realistically about how social media fits into our overall marketing and promotion.

It was said to me a few years back that if a business didn’t have a Facebook or a Twitter account (or if they did and there were no postings or interaction on the profiles) that potential customers would be turned off the business all together. Although I can’t prove how accurate that statement is for every customer out there, it did make me think that I do prefer to see a business with a social side (whether done well or not) then none at all. Ultimately social media has helped put ‘people’ and ‘customer service’ back into business. So what are you doing to put the ‘social’ into your business?

And here’s a little something which makes me smile, and probably encapsulates why I genuinely do love how Social Media is changing the world;

Sian provides Social Media training, consultancy and strategy development for businesses across the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. If you’re interested in finding out what she can do for you then please get in touch with her via;

Facebook LinkedIn Twitter

The fantastic online sources used to inform this piece:

New Favourite Thing: Infographics

Information graphics or infographics are visual representations of information, data or knowledge designed to present information quickly and clearly. Although infographics have been around for many years the recent proliferation of easy-to-use, free tools, have made the creation of infographics available to anyone.

What is an infographic?

an infographic is

Infographic to explain what an Infographic is by Hot Butter Studio

According to Inforgaphics Archive the history of infographics data back to early prehistory, where humans created graphics through cave paintings and later maps. One of the earliest maps to be recorded is the map at Catalhoyuk  which dates back to 7500 BCE. In 3000 BC ancient Egyptians used heiroglyphic symbols to tell stories depicting their lives, work and religion and perhaps one of the most recognisable infographic in the UK is the 1st tube map of London in 1933 showing only the lines of transit routes and stations.

First London tube map 1933

First London tube map 1933

In the 2000s and 2010s we now have access to web based infographic creators such as:

I’ve been experimenting with easel.ly for the last couple of months, it’s currently a beta site, but it is really easy to use and I can see the long term potential. The main downside to this site and I would imagine others is the database of  graphics and visuals you have available to you. Easel.ly is limited but as a beta site this is understandable. There is  the ability  to upload your own graphics or images, however these are imported as a solid block image, so if you want to overlay your own graphics without a white background onto your carefully selected infographic background this can be difficult. However with a bit of creativity you can work around the limitations to produce some pretty cool inforgraphics of your own.

Before the doors closed on the organisation I previously worked for I was able to pull together three infographics of the projects I was involved with. These were not only great at demonstrating to collegeues and potential business contacts what it is that I have done over the last four years, but it provided me with a real sense of achievement when I saw four years of hard work laid out in a easily understood pictorial.

HI-Arts Audience Development

HI-Arts Audience Development: Marketing, Research and Audience Development support for the cultural, creative and heritage sector

HI-Arts Craft Development

HI-Arts Craft Development Programmes for Craft Makers and Designers in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland

Growing Audiences North East Infographic

Growing Audiences North East: Audience Development for the Cultural Sector in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire

If you are interested in designing your own infographic I would definitely recommend easel.ly and here are a couple of tips to get you going:

  • The Purpose; what do you want your infographic to depict? What is the point of it?  And who do you envisage reading it?
  • The Data; you need a good assortment of data and information to be able to present and to make it interesting. Look at your diary, your accounting, your social media, your website stats, the number of people you have worked with  or met, the places you have visited… the data you choose will depend on the reason you are creating the infographic in the first place.
  • The Theme; when picking your background or theme (colour scheme, background image, the graphics)  think about how these relate to the data you are trying to represent graphically. If your going to depict the number of miles you’ve travelled say, then you might want to use a graphic of a car or public transport.
  • It’s not always about the percentages; I will admit that I can overdose on percentages, they’re neat and tidy, but over use of a percentage can be a bit uninteresting, so try to mix it up. So if you know 25%  of the people who visit your website also visit your blog then why not express it as 1 in 4 people visit your blog.
  • Less is more; it can be tempting to fit in as much information as you can, but sometimes less definitely is more, especially if you are trying to get across a particular point. With the infographics I designed I started out with twice as much data as I ended up displaying.
  • Get someone else to check it makes sense; because we understand our data and know what it means to us doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone else will too. It’s good then to get someone who is not as closely related to the information to read it over and see if they come to the conclusions or understand your graphic the way you intended.

If you are interested in having your own infographic made for you then do get in touch with me by leaving a comment below.

Inverness Castle and Ness River

New Beginnings

As of June HI-Arts, the cultural development agency for the Highlands and Islands, closed its doors after 20 years of providing support to the cultural and creative sectors of the Highlands, Islands, North East and beyond. I was privileged enough to work there for four years, where I was able to hone my skills, develop my knowledge and work with a talented group of individuals across Scotland.

This month I have set out on my own, as a freelancer based in Inverness, I aim to continue to work with the cultural and creative sector, as well as the tourism sector and with small businesses or all persuasions. My focus will be on marketing, promotion and audience (or customer) development, and after working so closely with numerous small businesses in the creative field on making the most of the digital and online world, there will be a slant towards taking advantage of the world wide web.

I’ve since started a 9 month contract with Strathpeffer Pavilion, a beautiful 19th century spa building in the lovely little village of Strathepeffer, about 30 minutes away from Inverness. The Pavilion is the UK’s most northerly Spa and now runs as a multi-purpose venue for the community, the Ross and Cromarty area, Inverness and beyond. The Pavilion puts on live music events, theatre, classical concerts, craft and food, arts and photography fairs, weddings and conferences. In the last couple of months it has doubled it’s staff members and has an eye to becoming the provider of choice for all types of entertainment and events in the Highlands.

I’ve been brought on board with Kris Reid to assist the team in developing and improving their branding, marketing and promotion, press and media relations, programming, sales and income generation, audience development, sponsorship and friends schemes – so quite a bit to do.

I’ll also be continuing to work with Pamela Conacher and Avril Souter on their crafts development programme, which has now joined with Peter Urpeth’s writing programme to form a new organisation; emergents. I am delighted to be able to continue to provide marketing and development support and advice to the many makers on the Making Progress and Made to Measure schemes over the next year.

To top all this off, I’m going to continue to work with HIE on their IT Engagement Programme, as a specialist advisor and trainer, specifically in social media. In the last year I’ve delivered workshops in Dornoch, Orkney, Oban and Caithness.

Over the next couple of months I’m also working on setting up a social media marketing  business – so watch this space!

If anyone is interested in finding out more about the services I can offer please do get in touch sian.jamieson@gmail.com